Monday, June 4, 2012

Dark Shadows

I really struggled with myself whether to review this film. Like all good mothers say, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." However, I am sick and tired of being consistently disappointed by Tim Burton. Someone needs to put their foot down, and that someone will be me. Picture it: a young effervescent man falls in love with a beautiful bewitching woman. They live together harmoniously for several years until one day the man falls for a manipulating troll. The gorgeous witch is heartbroken and lays a curse on the man. Sounds like a fairy tale? Or maybe the plot to DARK SHADOWS? No, this is Tim Burton's life. Ever since he dumped Lisa Marie (the model) for Helena Bonham Carter, his career has taken a plunge into Ed Wood territory (pun intended). It seems as though Lisa Marie cursed Burton to make shitty films showcasing the ever acerbic Carter. Critics and fans have all noticed, but this recent project is a new low. With Lisa Marie, Burton was creative, dark, and whimsically inspiring. He based the Sally character in NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS on her. With Carter, he is boring, trite, and unapologetically bland. She has been a main character in all his films since the train wreck that is PLANET OF THE APES. Back to the film. I love the original series of Dark Shadows. I also loved the 90s revival. The Burton film is an abomination compared to either. Remember the predictable "fish out of water" movie theme? Yep, he goes there and it couldn't be more pathetic. I get Burton was trying to be comical, but too much camp equals absurdity. The original series was notoriously campy. It existed on a very low budget that often did not enable reshoots or second takes. There was a lot of lines flubbed, set pieces falling down, and even visible boom mikes. Notwithstanding, the nature of the series was a dramatic serial. True, these mishaps added charm to the show, but it was never intended to be humorous. That was Burton's first mistake. Casting: I followed this project for two arduous years. Johnny Depp initially said he was born to play Barnabas Collins. Apart of me still believes that. The other part says it is time for Johnny to move on. This is the eighth film Burton & Depp have done together. Their relationship has withstood most Hollywood marriages. Although, like many other long term relationships, the luster will fade. In the immortal words of Steve Perry, I think it's time Burton & Depp each go their separate ways. Depp could have been great as the dashing Barnabas, but Burton's dismal direction made him out to be Count Chocula. Michelle Pfeiffer She was wonderful as the family matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard. She played the part of a well to do, poised, dame. This role reminded me of how much I loved her in BATMAN RETURNS. Eva Green Green was utterly enchanting as Angelique. She really brought life to the role of the scorned witch/bitch. She may have been the only rewarding thing in this film. Chloe Moretz Grace Grace was so terrible as Carolyn Stoddard. She had the absolute worst lines in the entire film.
"What? I'm a werewolf, let's not make a big deal out of it...Woof"
I am completely shocked that someone actually wrote that line and thought it sounded good enough for a film. I know there's been a lot of hype around Grace, but this little girl is just not cut out for the horror world. She needs to be taught a lesson about overacting. Jonny Lee Miller is usually on his game, but again he was lost on this sinking ship. His character was very underdeveloped and forgettable. Jackie Earle Haley suffered a similar fate. Whoever played Josette/Victoria I don't even care to look this girl's name up on IMDB because we will probably never see her again in anything. Victoria is supposed to be a strong, independent, yet compassionate woman. Instead this role turned out like a scared, fragile little girl. She and Depp had NO chemistry whatsoever. In fact, it was uncomfortable to watch their romantic scenes. It looked like Johnny Depp dressed as Michael Jackson kissing a high school student. She was the most insipid and painful part of this film. And what was with the extended Alice Cooper performance? Was it necessary to insert a big budget video in the middle of the film? Were we gonna magically forget that we paid way too much money to see this steamy turd? NO! I won't even get into all the cheap product placement either. I will say that the sets and costumes were lovely, but that's about it. This should really be an obituary for Tim Burton because he's FUCKING DEAD TO ME!

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